Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Charities get the blogging bug

I did an interview a month or so ago and out popped a very nice article in the Journal News that talks about charity blogging.

I knew when I said Second Life was "weird" that it would be printed.

Blogging continues to not be about technology, but about connecting people. I could go all "Cluetrain" on you, but I'll spare you from it.

Charities get the blogging bug

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Other NPO Myspacers...

Nice solid post on netsquared with some examples of other NPO's using myspace.com. Some of the links have quite a few "friends" which is terrific. I think our Team In Training profile is up over 200.

I had an earlier post out how we're using external sites with some success.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Branding - How to Go Overboard

This video is not only good for a quick laugh, it actually has lots of implications for your non-profit (and mine) if you watch closely. If you are designing your next web site, marketing campaign or even developing your next big special event, do not let this happen to you!

What you think is right for the "brand" may not be right for the customer, donor, participant, volunteer, etc...

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Tagging and Yahoo

Apparently Tagging is a hot topic... I've even gotten a few comments and emails about my previous post.

I found this article last night while surfing around which talks about what's next for Yahoo! and has some info about how they view tagging...

"While search is currently focused on indexing and retrieving Web documents, the future of the market lies on tapping the knowledge and information that people possess and that isn't found on Web pages, Weiner said.

"As valuable and essential as Web search is to all of us today, we're in the threshold of another shift," he said. "There are billions of people on the planet that possess in theory trillions of knowledge artifacts. How do we start to get at that knowledge?"

The answer is in social bookmarking, such as Yahoo's del.icio.us service, which lets users save, share and annotate Web page links, in social media sites, such as Yahoo's Flickr, where users can store, label and share photos, and in search engines that let users participate in solving queries, such as Yahoo Answers, where users can post and answer each other's questions, he said."

They are asking the same question as I did about how do we create something bigger and more valuable. They are also going down the same path in their thinking about tagging (social bookmarking) but unless they have something up their sleeve in terms of a uniquely designed UI, I think that the result will be a "fishing pool full of tag goo."

I'm even less certain than I was before my earlier post about tagging!

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Yet More on Tagging

Ever Since Beth started posting about Tags my brain has been on fire trying to figure out what we are really trying to accomplish (see a previous post on the topic). I sent two of my employees to Syndicate to try to uncover some more info - and they came back with a mish-mash of information. Most importantly, we had an interesting conversation about the value of tagging. Just like what they learned/didn't learn at Syndicate, it's not completely cohesive and does leave you with yet more questions...

The original goal for me when I started messing with Tags was to potentially be able to create and collaborate with patients and caregivers to create an "ultimate" reference source of information relating to leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. In my theory, if we seeded tags with good links and content, then others could add to those tags, and over time we'd have created/sparked a phenomenal resource.

Since then, some significant issues have surfaced in my mind:

* Tagging vs. Search
* Link Fishing?
* Your tag or mine?

Tagging vs. Search
It's not quickly evident to me that finding content via tags is any easier than via a good search engine. Lots of factors play into this of course including available meta data and/or well-formed and thought out tags for example. When trying to explain tags to my boss for example, the question she asked was "Why bother with tags - just use search." I'm not discounting that question, I think it's a fair one. Right now, navigating via search isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better than most or all the tag schemes I've seen.

Link Fishing
So let's say I have all these great tags... maybe hundreds of them. At that point, even a nicely formatted "tag cloud" would only serve up quantity, not quality of links - and from there I'd have to sift through perhaps tens or thousands of links in a much less efficient way than by just using Google from the start.

Your tag or mine?
Then there's the problem of naming your tags. Everyone has a slightly different way of thinking about things - I say Myeloma, you say Multiple Myeloma. Without a standard set of published, prompted tags, chaos could reign. Then again if you only allow pre-created tags, there's not flexibility for users to create their own world view within the tags. Trying to do both would result in "tag goo" (a term I literally just invented). Good post on this at NetSquared.

So I'm thinking that my original goal as stated above simply isn't on target. I may have been wrong (oh my god!)

But our conversation took a turn when we started talking about using tags for well defined areas of information; research for example. What if for example, we started to develop tags for specific disease and research information and allowed everyone/anyone to add to those tags. From there, researchers and professionals could potentially create on their own a very complete set of links, data and information that would service potential grant candidates, researchers and other professionals. Is it possible that by restricting the set of tags and content you are tagging, it would be a more valuable resource? I have no idea.

Tagging is interesting because of the collaborative nature of the act of tagging. But I'm still searching for examples of where it really works well.

For an example of where it works terribly, look no further than Amazon.com's tagging. I feel like I'm missing something here - I looked up a product (News Radio on DVD) and the tags where:

dvd (2), remember (2), news radio (1), newsradio (1), tcowned (1), tv dvd (1), wishlist (1)

So explain to me how this is valuable to anyone? I can't find on Amazon where I use tags to enhance my searching and I can't understand how "tv dvd" as tag would result in anything but a link fishing expedition. Please someone, tell me I'm wrong and that it is in fact a terrific solution to some problem that Amazon is trying to solve!

What's next for tagging - one idea...
I think that mashing up search engines and tagging could be a really neat innovation. For example, you could:

* Search text/meta data first, sort by tag or tag cloud next
* Navigate a tag cloud first, then search text/meta data next

(Does this exist anywhere already - I tried unsuccessfully to add some data in the notes field and then search for it in Del.icio.us).

Finally, it's going to take some time for the "general public" to get tagging if in fact it proves itself to be a surviving technology. Certainly us "geeks and freaks" understand blogging, RSS and Tivo, but to the general public, it's just noise.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Batter Up!

When I heard about this yesterday, I couldn't believe it... I am completely blown away by how cool this cause promotion is - and how thrilled that Major League Baseball decided to participate. If you haven't heard - the Komen Breast Cancer organization put together a promotion where MLB allowed players to use wear pink armbands and to use special "pink" bats celebrating Mother's Day. Even the lineups will be written on pink lineup cards... The folks at Komen don't miss a trick!

In additional to being brilliant from an awareness perspective, the idea that the players would use these bats and then sign and auction them off strikes me as literally, the perfectly conceived fundraiser. More than 400 bats were made for more than 50 players - some even with the players mom's name engraved on the bat.

Locally, the details are awe-inspiring... in Atlanta, the Braves recognized more than 300 survivors. In Cleveland, a huge huge pink ribbon was stretched out in center field and in Tampa, the Devil Rays provided pink visors to the first 7,500 women attending Sunday's game against Toronto.

And in LA before the Angels, player Tim Salmon gave flowers to five mothers and their children. An essay contest resulted in winners who got the opportunity to throw out the first pitch and to deliver the "play ball" call prior to game time.

From an NPO/cause marketing perspective, it hasn't gotten by that MLB also figured out how to activate this promotion with not only national media, but local club/franchise participation - and with additional help from the players themselves. A lesson that large, multi-affiliated NPO's should look at closely and one that Komen has clearly figured out.


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Friday, May 12, 2006

Del.icio.us and Squidoo

I've been trading emails and comments with Beth from Beth's Blog and posted this comment a minute ago... figured I'd post it here as well. In response to "I'm enjoying reading his blog - lots of useful posts here. I'm also noticing that he has set up a tag called lls on delicious and this relates to a brief presentation I need to cracking on. Marc, can you tell me a bit more about how you using this tag? "

We've set up lots of tags that relate to our mission and fundraising program. We've been experimenting with them within our message boards and emails - the vision is that the "group" can collaborate together to create a much more robust and complete set of articles and resources in one place. We continue to experiment and play with tags, I've been using them for a few months in conjunction with our experiments on Squidoo to combine tag RSS feeds directly into our lenses.

I'm also looking into extending our content RSS feeds with tags as well, but we're not quite there yet. You can see all of our feeds and iTunes links at


Some links on Del.icio.us and Squidoo.

Not sure of the net effect quite yet - but we've had 102 visits to the Team In Training lens and lots of email traffic from folks liking the lens.

One nice benefit is that because these resources are off our "official" sites - I can have a little more flexbility in presenting content and experimenting.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fourth Place Marketing

Ok - so I'm sort of stealing (just a little)... I've been thinking a lot about how we extend our marketing out beyond our virtual borders - trying to meet people in their own networks and communities online and came up with something I'm calling "The Fourth Place" - which extends Starbucks Third Place concept.

I'm going to use this concept as the core concept in my WOMMA presentation that starts in just a few minutes and see how it floats. The idea is that online, our Third Place (like Starbucks) are our own web properties (web site, BBS, blog, etc...). Third Place sites are ones that we tightly control, have moderators watching and are generally built and paid for by us.

Fourth Places (I'm trying so hard not to type Web 2.0), are those virtual places online that are their own, self-sustained communities that we want to reach out to and partner with. For example, we created a Team In Training profile on Myspace.com and partnered with an existing group to bring in additional users and to take advantage of existing discussions. 173 or so friends have connected to us - who we reach out to through a new myspace blog. The thinking is really - how do we embed ourselves in existing communities in order to accomplish our mission, extend our brand and raise more money for research?

Additional Fourth Places we are reaching out to include Youtube (165 PSA views), Frapper (64 members) and Mapmyrun.com - check them out.

Here's a slide from my presentation that represents this concept (sort of small, but you can download the full size graphic if you like):

Leave a comment or two... what do you think?

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Nonprofit Blog Exchange - Round 3 - Beth's Blog

I posted earlier about Have Fun Do Good for the Nonprofit Blog Exchange and now it's time for blog #2 - Beth's Blog.

To me, the mark of a good blog post is one that I either pass around to colleagues, or when I keep specific posts "marked as new" in bloglines. Right now, I have 11 different posts marked this way - and Beth's latest on Gaming is right up my alley.

I've spent the last few months thinking about gaming and how we can both raise money with games, and use games to educate patients and caregivers about our mission - and ultimately to affect patient outcomes.

Last year, we partnered with a player from Star Wars Galaxies who raised more than $11,000 by putting together an in-game auction of items built in-game and available for real world money by bids. They conducted an in-game live auction.

After that experience, I came across how American Cancer Society had done a virtual walk in Second Life and was really blown away.

A few months ago, I got involved myself on SecondLife and got set up with a donated piece of land and a house. If you are a SL'er, contact me in game (Cram Doctorow). I started meeting people in the game who wanted to help or were patients themselves. I continue to dabble, but I was really excited to see in Beth's post that there is an upcoming conference that I'll hopefully attend and that more and more people are thinking about how gaming can be applied within the NPO world.

Beth's blog is also a treasure trove of links to other great thinkers and doers in the NPO world - some of my favorite posts include:
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Monday, May 08, 2006

CEO Exchange

If you haven't already discovered CEO Exchange - a terrific PBS show (and podcast!), you should plan to watch or listen as soon as possible. I downloaded all the currently available podcasts and listened to episode 401 with Blake W. Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom, Inc. and Jim Donald, President and CEO, Starbucks Coffee Company this morning driving into work.

This show is like having the best CEO's in your ear, telling you how they run their businesses, what to look out for and what they are focused on. For example, Jim Donald comes in every morning and makes calls to a bunch of stores to check in and say hello... every morning.

I'm not a CEO (yet!), but I hope I remember some of what I'm listening to on this show - I wonder many NPO CEO's come in every day and call 3 or 4 chapters to check in - and do it every day as part of their routine?

Here's the Podcast link if you are interested.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

WOM and Non-Profits

I need to get cracking on my presentation...

WOM and Non-Profits
May 10, 2006, Noon EST
$50 non-members, $10 members

Word of mouth isn’t just for big companies and well-known brand names. The non-profit sector can use word of mouth just as effectively for their own cause. Learn from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on how to use the best tools that accelerate WOM. Then listen to an informative case study from the Prostate Net on the use of offline, real world WOM with local community barbers. This seminar will show you how to:

  • Use grassroots methods to build WOM
  • Get to know your community and work with the message
  • Track and measure what people are saying – both online and offline

Featured Speakers:

Marc Sirkin, VP, eMarketing, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Virgil Simons, President, The Prostate Net

Sign up now!

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Nonprofit Blog Exchange - Round 3 - Have Fun Do Good

This is my first Nonprofit Blog Exchange - and one of two blogs that I'll be posting about. First up is Britt Bravo's Have Fun Do Good blog. Her mission (I found it on her very first post) is to compile examples of the integration of service and joy.

The blog features what Britt calls the "Big Vision Podcast" - a series of interviews with NPO execs trying to affect positive change. To be honest, I listened to 1 interview which I thought was terrific and I hope to listen to several more when I find some time.

Given that my organization (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) has just started playing around with podcasting by repurposing existing teleconference audio, I was especially interested to listen to some of the interviews and to read her post about the 7 Ways NPO's can use podcasting.

The list provided is very smart and interesting to read - we're not yet ready to commit to creating any unique content for podcasts but it is very encouraging to see other NPOs jumping in though.

Britt uses Blogger (just like this blog) and does something very smart by tagging each post with links to technorati - I'll have to look into that myself!

I've subscribed to Have Fun Do Good through Bloglines (hey, she has more subscribers than me!) and look forward to reading and listening to a lot more from Britt.

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Opt-in Nuttiness

We recently did something that most marketers only read about in case studies... we made our entire list opt back into our e-mail newsletters - and those that didn't were dropped from our lists. We also recently introduced double opt-in for new subscribers - and that's made a difference as well - our list quality is way up and that's good. Even if our lists are a lot smaller.

The results are astounding and stunning...

I have a lot to say about this, but will encapsulate my thinking as a top 10 list on why every NPO marketer should do this immediately:

10. It's controversial to lose more than 50% of our list size - but worth it- and worth talking about
9. Spam complaints have dropped dramatically
8. Our email vendor (ExactTarget) thinks what we're doing is great and wants a case study from us
7. Allows us to effectively benchmark our lists and provide solid guidance to our chapters
6. Renewed list excitement
5. Cleaned up old and duplicate email addresses that were ruining our delivery and click rates
4. Our lists are now chock full of folks who WANT TO HEAR FROM US!
3. Deliverability rates went from 80% to over 98%+ - wow!
2. Click rates went from 1-2% on average to anywhere from 15-30%
1. Our open rates are up over 50% on average from less than 20%

P.S. My blog as been Getting Attention (because I'm so punny I think) lately - thanks for the post!